Iguacu: inside the joy tent


The CEO and Founder of iguacu (igwah-soo) – the new global platform for effective giving – explains why iguacu exists and reflects on the way iguacu is bringing together and connecting ‘joyful types’ who understand the power of compassion.

I’m sitting inside what just might be one of the happiest tents in town. It’s an unusual place. Beautifully illuminated, there’s no door policy, no walls. Everyone is welcome. Most of the world though walks on by. To most of the world, the tent is invisible. They cannot see it, not yet.

The tent is filling up with truly wonderful people, the kind of people that are actually present when you speak to them, who listen, and whose company can leave you feeling seen. And you may notice some of the brightest minds on the planet. They know already what the fields of neuroscience and psychology are catching glimpses of and what spiritual traditions have been saying for centuries.

But why are they smiling?

Everyone is different of course and has their own journey. But these ‘joyful types’ tend to have a few things in common. They think about and value their life, love and blessings. Their typical day brings a greater sense of meaning. They’re less interested in never-ending material acquisition, less interested in the distractions and noise of modern life. They see the plenty in their lives and the love that needs nurturing. They have found the power of gratitude. They have found the power and joy of compassion.

Part of the job of iguacu (igwah-soo!) is to help make the tent more visible to the world, and the people who connect with us are bringing all the ideas, energy and support to help make that happen. They are the energy in the tent!


The simple vision of iguacu is to serve the world whenever people wish to give effectively, and in so doing, channel large scale effective action to where in the world it is in great need. Effective compassion in action.

Ever looked at Syria in the news and wished you could do something for the people caught in the middle?

Ever wondered why refugees at the fringes of Europe are risking everything, taking their children onto a leaky boat in foul winter weather?

Ever find yourself online searching through countless charities in response to a crisis, with increasing frustration, not knowing which actor is truly effective on the ground?

The iguacu platform at weareiguacu.com serves you, recommending effective actions you can take with confidence to support people in great need, and answering the common questions time-poor people have about humanitarian crises.

We’re not a charity. We’re an agile independent non-profit social enterprise run on a clear set of governing principles. User-centred, rigorous and results-oriented, we’re serious about delivery.

The iguacu intelligence network

In determining what’s effective, uniquely, we ask those best placed to know. In every one of the eight countries (and counting) we cover, we speak one to one with a large network of area experts with an in-depth knowledge of the country in question. Thanks to their intelligence, we’re able to identify, with confidence, the effective charities on the ground addressing the key humanitarian challenges. The network also advise us when, in some cases, there’s a better action to take than donating.

At iguacu, we start with the humanitarian challenge, in its specific context. We don’t look for solutions that attempt to fit all countries and different cultures. We’re not led by the tick boxes of grant-making authorities. We don’t rely on the documents charities publish. We simply ask those best placed to know.

One of the beautiful things about our network is that every single member across the world gives their time to iguacu for no fee. They value the vision. They want to reduce the terrible suffering they know only too well.

The name?

iguacu means ‘big water’. Iguacu is also the name of a great river in South America which leads to one of the world’s most beautiful waterfalls. The Iguacu falls are almost 3km long surrounded by forest.

If we liken one person’s compassionate intention to a drop of water, and intention on a large scale as a powerful river, when a great many act together effectively, we can create something as beautiful, powerful and inspiring as the falls of Iguacu.

Our fantastic community

The start of the journey has proven deeply inspiring. Almost every time I meet another person drawn to what we’re doing, and I get the chance to explain, they end up connecting meaningfully, and offering to help.

Our feedback community is brilliant. They’re busy people – regular overseas donors usually are. But they make time every now and then to speak one to one with us over skype to be brutally honest about what we’re doing. They’re called KIS (Key Iguacu Supporters) and they’re so important to iguacu. We love KIS! every one.

And then there’s HUG and these iguacu angels are Helping Us Grow! Whenever they act on the iguacu platform they share us with another friend, and whenever they get the chance they spread the word about iguacu’s value.

We’re just starting to invite sponsors (responsible corporates/philanthropists) interested in what we’re doing and who value our mission, independence, reputation and, our target audience. Our senior Friends of iguacu, who have no time at all, just keep opening doors to potential sponsors and offering fantastic advice.

When I first floated the idea of iguacu in 2014, it was the most experienced senior people with the hardest questions who were iguacu’s biggest fans. The strength of the response to the idea was so inspiring. It made me feel deeply honoured to be a guardian of iguacu.

If we stop, if we find some silence, we all know how great it can feel to act on our compassion. iguacu seeks to spread the joy. iguacu seeks to make the tent visible.

If you’d like to cheer us on! support us, connect, meet for coffee!, don’t hesitate to call or email me when you read this. If you’re as time poor as me you’ll know there’s no better time. Email Katherine on katherine@weareiguacu.com or call +44 7966 341 248.


Photo credit: Ryan on Flickr.